A new Thanksgiving rivalry emerges when the Texas Longhorns (8-2, 5-2) take on the TCU Horned Frogs (6-4, 3-4) Thursday.
Due to conference realignment, the age-old tradition of Texas vs. A&M is over, but Longhorns fans still get to enjoy seeing their team take on an in-state rival on Turkey Day.
TCU may be a new face in the conference, but Texas and TCU are familiar programs historically. The two schools have met 79 times since 1904 with Texas holding the series lead 58-20-1.
The Longhorns have quietly put together a solid season. After giving up 111 points in back-to-back losses against West Virginia and Oklahoma, they have rallied to win four straight.
With an outside shot at a Big 12 title still at play, Texas has plenty to play for in this one.
TCU has had a rough season in 2012. As if it weren't difficult enough to make an impact right away in the Big 12, TCU has dealt with injuries throughout the season and the midseason departure of quarterback Casey Pachall. Despite all of the adversity, TCU has managed to become bowl eligible.
A win against Texas would be the defining moment of the season and a big boost heading into next season.
Here's all the information you need surrounding this primetime Thanksgiving matchup.
When: Thursday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 ET
Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas
Live Stream: WATCH ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio
Spread: Texas -7 (via Covers)
As well as Texas has been playing in recent weeks, it's surprising that this line isn't a bit higher.
The Longhorns are clearly the favorite as they are have a much better record and have been playing some of their best football in their last two games.
The Frogs on the other hand, have been extremely inconsistent this season. As young as the Frogs are, it's difficult to tell which TCU team will show up.
The Frogs that beat the Baylor Bears 49-21 probably keep this one close. The Frogs that were blown out by Oklahoma State 36-14 probably suffer a blowout loss.
Texas should ultimately win this game, but covering the spread may be a bit more difficult than anticipated if Gary Patterson's squad plays up to its potential.
Over/Under: 58 (via Covers)
Those hoping for a high-scoring affair may be a big disappointed—this could be a very defensive game.
Contrary to the perception that the Big 12 conference doesn't play any defense, the defenses will play a large role.
The Horned Frogs are surprisingly good on the defensive side of the ball. They rank seventh in the country in run defense at 98 yards per game and put together a good performance against Collin Klein and the Kansas State offense.
The Longhorns have struggled at times on defense, but they only surrendered seven points to Iowa State in their last game. In TCU, the defense will see an offensive unit that scored 10 points against Kansas State and 14 points against Oklahoma State.
With both defenses playing well and the TCU offense really struggling, this should go under the point total.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
Malcolm Brown, RB, Probable
Ashton Dorsey, DT, Probable
Sheroid Evans, S, Probable
Miles Onyegbule, WR, Questionable
Kendall Thompson, LB, Questionable
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Out for season
Jordan Hicks, LB, Out for season
Trevone Boykin, QB, Probable
David Johnson, DT, Out indefinitely
Michael Thompson, C, Out for season
Casey Pachall, QB, Suspended for season
Waymon James, RB, Out for season
Danny Heiss, LB, Out for Season
Ross Forest, DE, Out for season
TCU has been eliminated from any type of BCS contention for weeks now, but the hopes of a Big 12 title and BCS berth are still very much a possibility for Texas.
The Longhorns need to win out and have Oklahoma lose to Oklahoma State to win a Big 12 championship and cement its place in the BCS. Even if Oklahoma wins Bedlam and secures the conference championship, Texas is essentially auditioning for an at-large BCS berth.
At No. 16 in the current BCS rankings Texas is lurking outside the top ten but have the opportunity to make a big move up the polls with a 10-2 record. However, that all starts with taking care of business against TCU.
Keys for TCU Victory
At this point in his career, TCU can't rely on Trevone Boykin to win games on his own. With Casey Pachall leaving the team in the middle of the season, Boykin has been thrust into the starting position and served admirably as the starter.
Boykin is a great athlete, but his abilities as a passer are still a work in progress. He's thrown at least one interception in each of the last four games. For TCU to win they'll need to run the ball effectively against a Texas defense that ranks 100th in the nation in run defense at 200 yards per game.
On defense, they'll need to continue to play well against the run. That won't be easy against Texas' stable of dangerous backs, but forcing David Ash to beat them is their best bet on defense.
Keys for Texas Victory
For Texas the key will be stopping the run on defense and running ball effectively on offense.
As stated previously, the passing game for TCU is shaky at best right now which means that the Horns can load up the box and force Boykin to make good decisions with the ball. Texas has improved weekly in stopping the run so that's a trend that must continue against TCU.
On offense, the Horns need to be consistent with the running game. TCU has one of the top rushing defenses in the country, but that's helped by the fact they play a lot of pass-heavy teams on the schedule. Johnathan Gray has been tremendous this season and he'll need to have a big day.
If the Horns can get the run game going and allow David Ash to make plays off of play action, it'll be a long day for the Horned Frogs.
This could be a close one, but the Longhorns have too much to play for and too much talent to be tripped up by the Horned Frogs here.
The Longhorns are really hitting their stride as the season winds down, and it would be shocking to see TCU put a damper on their current momentum.
Without Pachall at quarterback, the Frogs have lacked the dynamic deep passing game that made them dangerous on offense, and the Horns should be able to shut down their more one-dimensional attack.
With TCU's run defense, Texas could have a difficult time moving the ball in its own right, but the run game should wear down the defense to make plays later on.
Predicted Score: Texas 23, TCU 13
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